Actual: Efficient Rifugio to Limonetto, then bus to camp site at Limone - 1000 metres
19 km, 600 metres ascent, 6.5 hours including 1.5 hours breaks.
Best bit: Timed to perfection!
The full dormitory at Rif Don Barbera was absolutely quiet all night, and with good ventilation we all slept well.
The 10 of us in the Refuge all breakfasted at 7 and set off at about 8. Bizarrely, all 4 groups/pairs set off in the same direction. This was on the 'Tour di Marguareis' - a five day hutting circuit that could be ideal for Notchy, Night Bird, Birthday Boy, and others who prefer a milder form of backpacking to that which we are enjoying on this trip!
The good path was well waymarked, as we were soon also on the GTA route, the inspiration for our walk, for the first time.
We then more or less followed the now familiar border posts all morning.
Mist came and went. One moment we could see for miles, over massive cloud inversions, next moment we could be in a cloud, with 10 metres visibility and just the verdant flowers to enjoy. Today our floral radar observed the usual vast array, most of which we couldn't identify, but dominated by leopardsbane, globularia and a variety of gentians and orchids.
By lunch time we had reached Colle di Tenda, where a huge C19 fort, Fort Central, dominates the scene. We couldn't look around it as it was not maintained and had an impenetrable moat.
Just below was the remains of another huge construction, perhaps from the 1930s. Its high walls provided just enough shade for us to enjoy a satisfactorily cool lunch - the last of our tinned mackerel.
We passed nearby a couple more of these old C19 forts today, and we will see more. But it is relics from between the World Wars, when Italy was fortifying itself against possible invasion from France, that really litter the border, right from the start of our walk by the coast.
Descending to Limonetto, we lost the path briefly and followed a track down to a pleasant beech forest. This afternoon a new novelty featured on our walk - water. First some marshy ground, then a couple of open ended pipes gushing into the meadow, then some mountain streams, and at the foot of the beech forest an impressive waterfall. Hopefully our days of setting off with 2 litres of water each are over.
Below the waterfall a solid fence protected the privacy of an impressive mansion. At the end of its drive an open gate announced its name as 'Wonderfall'. The gate closed automatically as we photographed it!
It was 2.30, with drops of water coming from the seemingly blue sky, and the day's work was done, thanks to yesterday's heavy investment in mileage.
Limonetto is a small place to spend a day off, but we had barely explored it by the time a bus arrived. This took us down to Limone, whilst a storm tried to get going. We sheltered briefly at a bus stop then as the rain faltered we strolled into the large pedestrian precinct of this pleasant town.
By 3pm we were seated under cover outside Caffé Carillon, which provided welcome beers (with crisps and nuts thrown in). The storm raged for a while and a flurry of activity removed items from the outdoor displays of nearby shops.
We were in no hurry. We had timed our arrival to perfection. One week into our trip and our only use for waterproofs has been as pillows. We know that won't last, but we can enjoy the moment.
The kind people at the café drew us a sketch of how to get to the camp site (about 1km distant from its placement on our map) and once the storm had passed and the road was steaming dry, we strolled down to this excellent spot. It's nearly full of old caravans with bijou cabins attached to them - holiday homes for Italians. We are welcome though, and next to our pitch in a quiet corner is a gazebo with a huge picnic table that we can use for dining in comfort.
Some bikers arrive and set up as our neighbours, so we are guaranteed a quiet night. One is a Swiss fan of British bikes - he has rebuilt an old Triumph machine. The others are German officionados of the Dakar Rally, with the latest KTM has to offer.